home   genetic news   bioinformatics   biotechnology   literature   journals   ethics   positions   events   sitemap
  HUM-MOLGEN -> mail archive   |   Search register for news alert (free)  
  Hans Goerl: ETHI: Various  

archive of HUM-MOLGEN mails


[Author Prev][Author Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Author Index][Topic Index]

To: Multiple recipients of list HUM-MOLGEN <HUM-MOLGEN@NIC.SURFNET.NL>
Subject: ETHI: Various
From: Hans Goerl <GENETHICS@delphi.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Jun 1995 21:43:17 -0400

This ETHI message has five parts.The first message is a quote from a New
York Times interview with Alvin and Heidi Toffler. For those of you not
familiar with US current affairs, the Tofflers  are generally thought to
strongly influence the views of Newt Gigrich, the current Speaker of the
House of Representatives and leader of the recent resurgence of the
Republican Party. Comments on the feasibility of the Tofflers' grim
predictions are solicited.

The last four are follow-ups to JIm Cummins' initial message about the
California IVF clinic dispute. Though not, strictly speaking, on the topcic
of genetics, the scenario of academicians/clinicians operating a high-tech
reproductive clinic in association with a university raises issues all
genetics personnel should consider.

1. An interview with Alvin and Heidi Toffler, authors of "Future Shock" and
"The Third Wave" among other books appeared in the New York Times on Sunday
June 11th. Two quotes follow:

"Q: What are some changes you see on the horizon now?
ALVIN: ...I also think we will see a crisis in eugenics. Give a totalitarian
government the advanced tools made possible by the biological revolution,
and we can see a world of competing eugenic strategies as arrogant regimes
play God with future generations."

"Q:What makes you so unafraid of the future?
HEIDI: Who says we are unafraid?...
ALVIN: ...There are terrifying pieces to the future. Race specific weaponry.
You can zero in on ethnically linked genetic characteristics and target
those who carry them. This is GENETIC warfare, a modern version of giving
the Indians infected blankets. Terrifying. Absolutely."


2. From: "Brian Mannix  <BMannix@AOL.COM>

As an economist, I must object to the editor's comment that:

>We would like to hear from anyone who has  suggestions as to how a) the
>universities and researchers can protect themselves from  conflicts of
>interest and b) a patient can be assured that when his highly touted
medical >center doctor suggests a genetic screening/diagnostic test or
"experimental" >genetic therapy, that the Dr. and University are not at
least somewhat >motivated by profit.

While it is certainly true that profits can come into conflict with ethical
principles, this does not mean that the profit motive is itself an evil
thing.  On the contrary, it is the driving force that supplies a cornucopia
of goods things, including medical progress.  Indeed, the profit motive
usually provides (not always, I concede) a strong incentive for ethical
behavior.  As a consumer, I would prefer to be assured that those who are
selling me goods and services--including medical services--are chiefly
motivated by profit.  There are still a few places in the world where the
profit motive is broadly suppressed, but I would not want to live there.

--Brian Mannix (BMannix@aol.com)


3. From:   IN%"mlsnead@zygote.hsc.usc.edu"  "Malcolm Snead"  6-JUN-1995
16:29:08. 62

Subj:   RE: ETHI: IVF clinic dispute

Thanks for your very useful and informative comments from the editor,
which I find useful and not intrusive.  All the best mal snead


4. Subj:   RE: ETHI: IVF clinic dispute

Date: Tue, 06 Jun 1995 11:59:51 -0400

I would like to amend the most recent posting.  The majority of us are
"at least somewhat motivated by profit," including Dr.s and universities.
The most we patients can hope for is that this motive for profit is
somewhat balanced by the Dr.'s respect and concern for the individual.



5. From:   IN%"cummins@possum.murdoch.edu.au" 11-JUN-1995 21:48:14.91

David Blacksheet <Blacksheet@aol.com> responded to my mailing and has
allowed me to publish my rejoinder.

Thanks, David, for your thoughtful comments.

>Conflicts of interest exist widely. The problem is not the conflict of
>interest but the behavior of a scientist or any other individual when faced
>with a conflict of interest.  An ethical researcher makes every effort to
>avoid biasing results of experiments in the face of a conflict of interest
>and obviously to avoid illegal activities in any case but particularly when
>the person would benefit financially from the illegal activity. Breaking
the >law or acting immorally as in the examples of Asch and Najarian
(assuming for >the moment the outcome of legal  proceedings in the court)
has nothing to do >wih conflict of interest. They are criminal acts if they
break the law.

As I understand it there is currently no law in place in the US governing
gamete or embryo donation - am I right?  In this case the clinic is
presumably bound by a code of practice or similar agreement with the
University that would require such things as informed consent where
research or gamete donation is involved.  It will be interesting to see if
this has legal standing.  The other issue which is probably more
substantive is the woman's claim that her "property" was wrongfully  taken
from her, and this I guess cuts across existing property laws as well as
those pertaining to organ donation and adoption.  However, as I understand
the press report the suit is being brought by UCLA - prehaps to preempt
action by the presumptive parents?

I may be wrong about the US law.  Here in Australia at least 5 of the seven
states have laws in place that control reproductive biotechnology and
insist upon a system of IECs  Here in Western Australia even the "Egg in
the Process of Fertilization" (assuming anyone can indentify such an
entity) is given legal status and protection, and no "non-therapeutic"
experimentation can be carried out on embryos.  This includes genetic
testing - which of course has the geneticists pretty worried about the
legality of testing later in pregnancy by amniocentesis or CV biopsy.

>path most universities have taken to protect themselves from faculty
members >who act improperly in the presence of a conflict of interest is to
insist on >disclosure of the conflict and the development of a plan to
monitor the >activities of the faculty in the presence of a conflict. David
Lagunoff : >Blacksheet@AOL.com

I notice you responded to me personally.  Do you have any objection to
having the discussion aired further in HUM-MOLGEN  I wouldn't
have opened the topic if I didn't wish to have general discussion, however
I would of course respect your wish for privacy.

Date: Sat, 10 Jun 1995 19:54:27 -0400
From: Blacksheet@aol.com
To: cummins@possum.murdoch.edu.au
Subject: Re: ETHI: IVF clinic dispute ...

I have no problem with open discussion. Feel free. Although the legal issues
are important, I find them less interesting than the  ethical aspects of the
practice of science. I would guess that the egg implanters violated the
 human subjects procedures that they submitted and had approved by the
Internal Review Board within the University. Violations of IRB protocols are
subject to disciplinary actions within the universities up to firing of
tenured faculty.

Jim Cummins

home   genetic news   bioinformatics   biotechnology   literature   journals   ethics   positions   events   sitemap

Mail converted by MHonArc 2.4.4
WWW: Kai Garlipp, Frank S. Zollmann.
7.0 1995-2001 HUM-MOLGEN. All rights reserved. Liability and Copyright.